July 22: Rest day in Ione - The Great North American Sticky Bun Hunt - CycleBlaze

July 22: Rest day in Ione

IT IS TIME to assess whether America satisfies or displeases. More pointedly, it is time to see how it matches the list required of it. And I have to report with sadness that we have not yet been shot at, we have seen no black men playing guitar (or, indeed, black men doing anything, because this remains a determinedly pale-faced trip), and we missed the only chance to visit a topless bar because it was closed.

We do think we saw a car chase in North Dakota, but it was hard to tell because the cars were a mile apart.

The one thing in which we have succeeded is hearing a girl called Joleen singing about her dead dawg. I'm sure we must have. We have heard so many country music stations, with singers called Chubby Thighs and Ripple-Belly Johnson and Iron-Hard Willie, that surely Joleen must have been there with them. It is not a wise choice to cross America if you are, as Buddy Rich insisted that he was, allergic to it.

We are again enjoying this ride. Ohio depressed Steph, and to an extent the states that followed it, because the flat emptiness took her by surprise. Montana grew boring, and boredom is always hard to handle, but it didn't seem as bad - although it went on longer - because it was expected.

When we jogged up to Cardston, across the border, and then down again, things picked up no end. Western Montana and the brief passage through Idaho were beautiful. Now we have the high Rockies ahead of us, a pass a day for just short of a week, and the run to the coast and then south to Seattle. Then becomes the finale, going north through Vancouver and around the Canadian Rockies, which we're assured will be the most beautiful part of the four months we will have been away.

It's interesting that we can ride for so long and remain in the same culture. Americans would say the accent has changed several times, and markedly, but we barely notice the difference. The countryside has changed but little else has. The language is the same and so is the money. The newspapers change but the news stays the same. There is always a Walmart in any town worth the name. There are the same chain stores. The road signs are the same. We knew it would be so but it it is nevertheless a surprise to we Europeams.

As we told our new friends in Hitterdal, just before we entered North Dakota, I can drive an hour and a half in one direction at home and the people speak Spanish. In another couple of hours they speak Portuguese. Cross the water to the south of the Portuguese and Spanish regions and they speak Arabic.

Going east, the language changes to Italian before the end of the day. In a day driving north or north-east, it will change to Dutch, German or a Swiss regional language, depending on exact direction. Even on a bike, at touring speed, the language will change once every few weeks.

In America and Canada, other than in Quebec, it isn't so. They are big countries. Homogenous countries. And we have to come to terms with that. Which is why we came, of course. Because it's different from home. And if you wanted it to be the same as at home, you might as well stay there.

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